Washington: Good news for all those who want to lose weight this year. Scientists have made a diet pill which tricks your body into thinking you just ate.
Salk researchers have developed a more effective pill that makes the body feel like it has consumed calories, causing it to burn fat. The compound effectively stopped weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar and minimized inflammation in mice, making it an excellent candidate for a rapid transition into human clinical trials.
Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn't dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects.
Ronald Evans, senior author of the new paper said that the pill is like an imaginary meal, and sends out the same signals that normally happen when a person eats a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite.
Evans and his colleagues developed the fexaramine compound by departing from the drug scaffold that most pharmaceutical companies typically pursue when targeting FXR. Giving one such drug in a daily pill form that only reaches the intestines-without transporting into the bloodstream that would carry the drug throughout the body-not only curtails side effects but also made the compound better at stopping weight gain.
When the group gave obese mice a daily pill of fexaramine for five weeks, the mice stopped gaining weight, lost fat and had lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels than untreated mice. In addition, the mice had a rise in body temperature-which signals metabolism ramping up-and some deposits of white fat in their bodies converted into a healthier, energy-burning beige form of the tissue. Even the collection of bacteria in the guts of mice shifted when they received the drug, although what those changes mean isn't clear yet.
Evans thinks fexaramine in the intestines work even better than drugs that simultaneously activate FXR throughout the body due to the natural order in which the body's molecular pathways normally responds to a meal.
Since the pill doesn't reach the bloodstream, it is also likely safer in humans than other FXR-targeting drugs, the researchers hypothesize.
The study is published in Nature Medicine.